The Lillians franchise that offers the latest in affordable fashions and accessories for women has a new location in Blaine.
Lillians of Blaine opened at 10950 Club West Parkway in the Club West Plaza on Nov. 23 and is open Thursday through Sunday each week and the first Tuesday evening of each month.
Barb Gonyea of Blaine, owner, said Lillians sells clothing including jeans and tops, handbags, jewelry, stylish hats and much more. She now is stocking scarves and mittens for the winter season. Angie, Papillon, a’reve and L.A. Idol are just a sample of brand names sold at Lillians of Blaine.
The business model of Lillians is to create a lively atmosphere inside the store, Gonyea said. She will occasionally gather women in the store for trivia games. This month will appropriately have holiday trivia.
When customers need a break from shopping, they can dine on cookies and coffee. The two founders of the company were inspired by a lady in Greenfield, Minn., they called “Grandma Lillian.” She would always have cookies and coffee available for her guests, Gonyea said.
Every time a man walks into the store, Gonyea rings an oversized cow bell and if they want to, they can sit in “the man chair” where they can read a sports magazine while their significant other does their shopping.
Another bell is rung every time a customer gets a free handbag by bringing in a full Lillians punch card or when a new Lillians customer enters the store.
“Lillians is about uniqueness,” Gonyea said. She noted that even when a product is popular and sells out quickly, they do not always order more of the product because it creates an urgency amongst the customers to be the first person to look at something.
The “Diva Nights” at Lillians of Blaine are the first Tuesday of every month from 4 to 8 p.m. and are great opportunities to be the first to see the newest products, indulge on light appetizers and sweet treats and be pampered with complimentary salon services such as hand massages, mini manicures or eyebrow waxing.
Although products are always marked at low prices, customers can sign the guest book to find out about upcoming sales and post cards that can be used to reduce a purchase by $5.
For Gonyea, owning a business is a dream come true. She has a bachelors degree in business, but then went back to school to get her teacher’s license and taught for 10 years at Mississippi Elementary in Coon Rapids and then Hayes Elementary in Fridley with her last year being a substitute teacher.
She quit teaching to care for her father when he became ill. After he died, she decided to pursue her dream.
“I love getting to know the people on a personal level,” Gonyea said when asked what her favorite part of owning a business is. She grew up in the area and went to Jefferson Elementary in Blaine, Northdale Middle School in Coon Rapids and then Blaine High School, so she has seen a lot of old classmates who have stopped by the store and hopes to see more soon.
The regular business hours are Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]